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An investor’s guide to Agrium, the largest agricultural retailer

Jose de la Puente

An investor's guide to Agrium, a high-dividend company (Part 1 of 3)

What Agrium offers

Agrium (AGU) is one of the most diverse fertilizer companies in the industry. It produces all three types of fertilizers: nitrogen, phosphate, and potash. But its biggest segment by EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization) is its Retail division.

PotashCorp (POT), Mosaic (MOS), and CF Industries (CF) are some of Agrium’s peers. But none of them have a retail business.

With a significant 3.8% share of the Market Vectors Agribusiness ETF (MOO), Agrium is the largest global agricultural retailer.

Agrium’s business

Unlike most of its peers, Agrium is a vertically integrated agricultural input business. In other words, Agrium not only manufactures the end product but also sells it directly to end markets through its retail business.

The company has production facilities in North America, wholesale distribution facilities in Europe, and participation in nitrogen facilities in South America, Africa, and the Middle East. Agrium also has numerous retail facilities in North America, South America, and Australia.

Retail is the largest component of Agrium’s adjusted EBITDA, representing 43%. Because of this, many analysts argue that Agrium’s growth is within the company’s control instead of being dictated by macro events such as fertilizer prices.

The company’s wholesale business includes Nitrogen (34%), Potash (14%), and Phosphate (3%). The remaining 6% is AAT (Agrium Advanced Technologies) and wholesale products purchased for resale.


As of May 12, 2014, Agrium has a market cap of $13 billion. In recent years, the fertilizer industry has experienced significant drawbacks—mainly due to higher supply and lower demand. While peers such as Potash Corp. (POT) and Mosaic (MOS) have lost up to 37.4% of their share value over the past three years, Agrium has managed to increase 8.3%. But Agrium has decreased 1.04% since the beginning of 2014.

The performance of fertilizer companies is highly driven by industry-related factors. But there are specific aspects of each fertilizer company that help you understand and predict performance. This series will go over what affects Agrium specifically and how you can understand these indicators.

Continue to Part 2

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